tv [untitled] August 2, 2011 2:00am-2:30am PDT
but they have to find a solution. without the state, law enforcement does not work. [applause] >> so, chief suhr -- [laughter] what do you do about this problem of the end justifying the means? so, how you teach your young officers or train them not to abuse their power and not to get these bad guys anyway they can and does not matter how they operate? how do you teach trainees about this? >> first, thank you for having me. this is a bit of an away game for me. [laughter] [applause] >> either way, it is your home
town. >> that is true. >> you might feel like you're on the hot seat on this panel draws that is ok. i can handle it. >> the background is extensive. certainly, after i have come in, there are psychological profiles. there are lie-detector tests. so, we really do try to get it right. only one out of 11 applicants to the police department makes it through. yet, we still get some folks to do some things we would rather have them not do. but character is everything, as has been discussed, in the police department, because they give us an awesome amount of power and responsibility. we can train the officers. they get over 1100 hours of training in the academy. integrity is enforced every step
of the way. usually, when officers are advanced, it is because they have demonstrated strong character or leadership along the way. but then again, too, in the police department, that is two dozen people. if you get a couple of people who are not doing what you would have them do, you get what you see on different videos. i would like to say, that is a highlight reel of all the things that have been put out. that was not all san francisco law enforcement. the most recent videos -- i could never pretend to be as eloquent as mr. hanlon, but if someone is proven to be dishonest, it is my intention not to have those officers in the san francisco police department anymore. [applause] >> mr. herley, you have been a police chief and dealt with
police conduct as a consultant. do you have anything to add to what chief suhr has said about preventing misconduct in a police department? >> thank you for having me. i do have to point something out. i was not the president of the california police officers association. it was the california police chiefs association. i spent 21 years in the city of torrance in southern california before coming up here, a city of to under 50,000, about 350 personnel. -- 250,000, about 350 personnel. much smaller organization. completely different type of agency. but one of the things we found was to my career and particularly at the beginning, there was really no classis% --
classes pe se, and we started a course on how to be a successful chief. a very strong component of that was an ethics, and what is the chief's responsibility within their department relating to at the experience included in that, it had to do with the abuse of power and misconduct. i was -- i guess you could say "a whistle-blower." i put together a case in which three officers i have worked with had been nearly to deaf a game and what they were off duty. -- nearly two -- to death a gain
man -- a gay man when they were off duty. i dealt with the consequences for many years. it was very lonely in that position. very lonely getting death threats. very lonely worrying more about the people behind you than the crooks in front of you. not a nice situation. very lonely when you do not get the backing of your fellow officers, at least some of them. or some of them kept quiet. or particularly the administration when there is no investigation. times have changed the lot. -- a lot. there is a saying we have. we do not expect what you do not inspect. and if you don't put into place policies that encourage -- i am
not saying being a whistle- blower, but encourage proper at 6, and i think -- proper ethics, and i think greg suhr stated very properly its starts in the police academy. u.s. no other position probably in the united states -- certainly not for some of our elected officials. yet no one who gets more scrutiny and more background checks and psychological checks and an 18-month probationary period. we as law-enforcement administrators hope that those kinds of people who do not meet on moral and ethical standard, we hope they do not pass or get
through. sometimes they do. i find it interesting that this is the -- it has been 20 years, 15 months, and two days since the rodney king incident in los angeles. when i watch that incident. -- when i watched that incident, it gave me shivers. what bothered me -- it was not only the people hitting rodney king -- but it was the other 19, 20 officers who stood around and did nothing. and allowed it to go on. that bothered me as much. and i was a police chief at the time. one of the things a new chief and parents is the department culture -- inherits is the department culture, which chief suhr is working with, whether you come from internally or
externally. sometimes cultures change. what bothers me is when we see evidence like we saw, we can tell the numbers of officers who were allegedly involved in that and put that against the numbers of officers there are in this bay area region or nationally. but it makes good press. and so, what we do is -- including me -- we paid with that broad a brush. i understand what. it is perception, and truth is only 10% fat and 90% perception. -- fact and 90% perception. what do we do to prevent it? we start teaching what our expectations are in the academy. we reinforce those expectations,
not just to the academy, but throughout every single daily -- every day, every hour, every minute. this is what we expect of you as our employees, whether you are a sworn officer or not. i really feel that one needs to be more loyal to the integrity than the people. [applause] i came from a background for my parents were holocaust survivors -- where my parents were holocaust survivors. i was one of the two people who
were jewish to become a policeman. my father could not stand the fact that i would do that. but i had certain values that i carried with me that i came from him, gained from my history, my background, my culture, as others have. and i do not expect anything less from other people than i do of myself. i expect my officers -- and i had it in writing -- i am no longer a cheap. i retired after 35 years and it has been 10 years since then, but i suspect every department has something in their rules and regulations that directs -- and we will talk about it in a while -- but directs officers if they see misconduct that that
misconduct will be stopped and the officers of starvations -- the officers observations reported immediately to the chief of police. [applause] >> ms. wu, when your department, the district attorney's office discovers an office -- an officer has been untruthful or is abusing power, do you have a policy in place for reporting this? or is there just an understanding, or how does your office deal with this? >> i also think everyone for having me here today. i could not agree more with the panelists to spoke before me. i say this to young lawyers all the time in our office. all we are is our integrity.
all we are is our ability to communicate and put forth evidence to juries, and we have to rely on that. we have to rely on integrity. it is difficult when these situations happen. i was really involved with the crime lab cases and the allegations against the criminals. i've been very involved in the allegations regarding some of these search and seizure issues, and i am just now becoming involved with the cases of potential theft. and all these are allegations. what is difficult, i think, for prosecutors in our office -- we find folks to be very reactive to these situations. the response often is if officers are not being truthful, that we need to look at at the
cases this will be involved in. the individuals will not be held accountable. at it really impacts public safety. all of us view our criminal justice system this why. i think that is the biggest failure that i see in terms of these allegations. it has a huge impact, losing faith from the community for the system to work. from our perspective, when we find there is an truthfulness or abuse of power -- and that is a wide range of conduct, from potential misconduct to actual criminal activity of an officer -- we absolutely take action on that. i think you can see that through
how we reacted to the crime lab scandal and the cases that we have to dismiss because of that, the cases that involve the henry hotel, those allegations, with the officers being taken off the street. what the reaction from our office was was to look at those critically and determine if those witnesses were material witnesses and be prepared to go forward. there is no interest to prosecutor individuals not based on solid evidence. it is not win or lose. for me, it is not winning or losing. it is whether we are doing the right thing. that is the important thing. and so, on the reactive portion for our office, it is looking back and making sure we are prosecuting on solid evidence, we are prosecuting and evidence that has integrity.
that is the most important thing. i also want to say that we are doing pro-active things. we are sending our lawyers to the academy to train lawyers -- the ethical issue is something we cannot get into as much, because that is an issue the academy might train, but we can train them on what the law is and we can train them on what they can and cannot do pursuant to the law, and we want to give them those tools to make good decisions and could arrests so there is integrity within the system. i agree wholeheartedly with what stewart said earlier, that if there isn't faith in the system, if there is not integrity and what we do, it is not just the criminal justice system. we all lose.
i will give a plug to my boss. he instituted all lot of policies when he was chief of police, and he did look at potential abuses within the city -- within the system. it is an important carry over to our office to make sure we're doing appropriate reviews whenever these situations happen. [applause] >> ms. irwin, you've been involved in some of these recent cases when it was alleged that video evidence contradicted the police statements. what is your office's wohl in bringing the abuses -- role in bringing the abuses of power to the attention of the public? obviously, we have the media.
what other roles to you have in bringing these allegations to the attention of the public? the public defender has a unique and natural role as a messenger. we have more interaction, meaningful interaction come up with the victims of police misconduct and anyone else in government, the media, the criminal justice system, and these are not superficial interactions that we have. we are not their bank tellers. we get into the intimate details of their lives in the course of representing defendants, and we hear their stories, we hear their accounts, we develop a relationship of mutual trust so
that we can confide their stories about police misconduct to us. so the rule is really unique. the stories from our clients about police misconduct are commonplace. everything from a disregard for the fourth amendment, theft, perjury, and the stories -- when you hear them over and over -- there becomes a real ring of truth to them, a consistency that makes it impossible for us, as attorneys, hearing the stories to dismiss them out of hand. the videos are not the first time that misconduct has ever happened.
they are just the first time for us. let me use the henry hotel incident as a case study. let's go out and amassed a bunch of videos. which is basically did our job to clients. the residents of the hotel told us what the police officer said was not what happens. we trusted them. we looked at the henry hotel. we got video from december 23. and lo and behold, every word of what our clients were telling us were true. two four two. the videos are just a small
sample of what some would say is clearly a culture or pattern. and i do want to say that even in my short tenure as defense attorney, i agree with stuart. there are so many good officers, but there are cultures that develop within certain units. i will put it right out there. many of the complaints we hear it involve plainclothes units, and perhaps there is a culture that develops and allows misconduct to happen and continue to happen. so, the public defender's role is unique and natural and i am confident that had we not been doing our jobs with respect to those brought residents of the henry hotel, those would never have surfaced and perhaps the
officers would never have had to answer for that conduct. [applause] >> i would like to ask a question and anybody can answer this. you brought up this culture that sends to -- seems to bring it misconduct on. what is it about this culture that makes some cops go bad or road? are the temptations so great because you are dealing with narcotics when you are under cover? what is it about the culture that breeds these bad things out. -- breeds these bad things out? >> i will answer that. i worked in narcotics for a long time. plainclothes for a long time. i participated in large
seizures, one of them involving $1.4 million in cash. and i never to the dime. i am comfortable with the officers i worked with, that they were of the highest caliber. as i said earlier, there are officers who are not of the same character as the officers i worked with, and i think the hard working men and women of the police department would just as soon not have them among them. to paint the organization with a broad stroke is not fair. in the legal profession, there are a tremendous amount of incredibly hon. attorneys and judges, but every once in awhile, we see an ugly stories there, too. would it be untoward, as they say? i think they need to be, as i said earlier, dismissed from our
ranks. >> for police officers who are alleged to abuse their power -- and know you want to comment on what chief suhr was saying. then i have a question for you. >> first, i have probably been involved in more cases than anyone in this area. >> [unintelligible] >> i have been involved in maybe 1000 cases as a consequence of that, -- i've been involved and maybe 1000 cases. as a consequence of that, i have given a lot of thought to there is no doubt in my mind that the culture exists, not just around the question of do you take money or not? there is a culture and in some departments about how you treat
the minority community. i have been representing people, blacks, browns, at such drug -- etc. for over 20 years. i know there is a disparity of the way they are treated by police agencies. not all departments are the same. so, i understand that can be a culture. i also understand this. part of what i have been involved in those beyond just the annual case, and trying to think about where you individuals are trying to get there. i wrote a book about it. i have looked at the apartments from around the country. i have looked at many consent degrees. i have been involved in one in oakland for almost eight years.
i have seen all the policies here in san francisco. i have seen policies in most departments. it is more about how you impose those policies, how do you know what the person is supposed to do. it is a comment i have seen from judges many times. it is a question of trust, but verify. there are enough mechanisms in place to audit internally -- not an internal audit department itself, but a way to look to see whether or not the integrity in the process that people are involved in. you can look on the spot check basis to determine whether drugs in the department are supposed to be there. you can look to find out whether or not people are being truthful when they say the police have taken the money.
i have seen that. and you can develop policies to look to say. look, does this particular officer have a history of arresting people and there is no underlying offense? or does the person have a history with drug cases were small amounts of drugs and have been obtained from people and it looks kind of funny when purses -- when the person is saying "i did not do with -- it"? of course, they are good law enforcement officers. i've had the pleasure of working with the staff where we have looked at and had to rewrite the policies, all of those policies. i want to tell you, there are very good people. but the people did not insist
that they do what the supervisor had to do. this is a common phrase. i will sum up. i first started when i was traveling on a book tour and i ran into officers in communities to were very upset because they had been whistle-blowers. what they were telling me is, look, the officers are taught properly in the academy. once the go to work, the training officer or the supervisor says "forget everything you've been taught in the academy." "this is how we do it in the streets here? [applause] this is a reality. you have to look at the training, that the trainee is being imposed and the people are following it, and to have to hold them accountable for. if you do not hold people accountable, all we are doing
is wishing past a graveyard. accountability is the most important and it starts at the top. it goes all the way down to the supervisors and ultimately you hold police officers accountable. if you do not do that, the culture will never change. culture changes slowly anyway. [applause] >> let me ask your gavotte chiefs -- two chiefs about this code of silence. we see it in the movies. uygur about it in books. -- we hear about it in books. >> i think there is peer pressure, to be sure. within the police department, we do not get to remain silent when
you are asked a question. a regular citizen has are right to not self-incrimination. then the police department, you can say that, and you certainly have that right as a citizen of the united states, and you're immediately sent over to the administration of internal affairs, where you were given an admonition, and you were going to say, now you're going to tell me exactly what happens, and they have to tell you or you're fired. that is the circumstance we're going through right now. i can tell the officers to tell me what happened, because if they do not, they are fired. so, they are telling us what went on. and it to the bottom of this investigation. with regard to generically if people do not say what ever -- there is pressure, but i think that largely, now in this day that largely, now in this day and age, with the light shining